This is the final novel of the Queens of Renthia trilogy though Durst mentioned she was writing a stand-alone novel about one of the other three kingdoms not explored as thoroughly as Aratay and Semo. Overall, I quite liked where Durst went with the story, and while in some ways, she followed some of the expected solutions, in other ways, she very much went against conventions, leading to a conclusion that contained elements I expected and others that I did not.
After mostly being discussed as the ambitious queen of a rival country in the previous novel, Mericot, Daliena’s former academy friend and roommate is back, and while she is mostly still a person with horrible decision making skills (that’s what happens when you don’t study for diplomacy classes!), her motivations are shown to be reasonable.
With Daleina and Naelin set up as a co-queens of Aratay, it seems that life should be easier for Daleina now but she quickly realizes how mistaken she was in that idea when Naolin’s children are kidnapped. Daleina has always been focused on duty and country, the common good and keeping strict control of her emotions. While Naelin became queen to save the country and her children, she sees herself as a mother first. She just happens to be a mother with all the power of a queen so when her children go missing, she very much takes a “country be damned” attitude. To be honest, I found her rather frustrating, and was grateful for Daleina’s presence throughout the book. She also took a more detached view and was worried about the welfare of everyone over the fate of two children.
Not being a mother, I had a hard time dealing with Naelin’s complete break down and her inability to consider consequences for everyone else. While many of the characters are empathetic to her, I am not sure I would have been able to be quite as patient but given her power, I’m not sure if people had much choice on that one. As a result, I didn’t enjoy this read as much because Naelin was simply too over the top and emotional for me. I appreciated that some of the other characters (Hannah and Daleina as voices of reason) had similar viewpoints so the reader was not necessarily supposed to agree with her actions but I definitely was ready for her to get over herself and think of the bigger picture (especially later on). The kind woods woman, once afraid of using her power, suddenly starts using spirits for everything to accomplish what she wants, and has no idea how to approach people without sounding like a frantic lunatic. Good thing she has Ven nearby to keep his head for both of them!
Unfortunately, Naelin’s characterization detracted from the rest of the novel but Daleina continues to show herself as an intelligent, devoted and caring queen. It’s kind of funny because I thought Naelin’s addition was an interesting and welcome move for the previous novel but in this one, I wished there was less of her! Despite Naelin, however, I still think the turns and twists of this novel were inspired, especially given how she approached the ending.
This was more of 3.5 for me because of Naelin but I am rounding up because the unconventional twist mixed into an expected ending and for the trilogy as a whole.